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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1021:363-70.

Trajectories of adolescent emotional and cognitive development: effects of sex and risk for drug use.

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Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


Adolescence has been widely accepted as a time for notable alterations in brain functioning. The objective of this longitudinal study was to compare trajectories of emotional and cognitive development in adolescent girls and boys with low- versus high-risk for future drug use. Nineteen healthy adolescents (aged 13.9 +/- 2.0 years; 10 girls), stratified into low- and high-risk groups based on family history of drug abuse, were examined at baseline and after one year. Emotional intelligence was assessed using the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory, the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children, and the Perceived Stress Scale. The neurocognitive test battery was designed to evaluate academic achievement, executive function, verbal memory and learning, and included the Wide Range Achievement Test, Stroop Color-Word Interference Test, Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, and Digit Span and Digit Symbol subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. Improvements in academic achievement, executive function, and working memory were observed at the one-year follow-up. Notable sex differences also were evident in emotional intelligence, academic achievement, and memory. Interestingly, these sex-related differences interacted with risk status; improvement in cognitive performance in boys and low-risk girls was generally superior to high-risk girls, who tended to show modest, if any, improvement at the one-year follow-up. These preliminary findings provide evidence of sex differences in emotion intelligence and cognitive function. Furthermore, these data also suggest that history of familial drug abuse may have a more pronounced impact on emotional and cognitive development in adolescent girls than boys.

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